Positioning the brand
A Chap Stick case study

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Page 2: The brand

Chap Stick 2 Image 1Chap Stick has come a long way since a certain Mrs Morton melted the pink Chap Stick mixture on her kitchen stove and poured the liquid through a small funnel into brass tubes. The rack was then moved to the porch for cooling, after which, the moulded Chap Stick was cut into sticks and placed in containers for shipping. All of this was made possible in 1912 after Mrs Morton’s husband John had bought the rights to the product from a local chemist for $5.

Today the brand is owned by American Home Products Corporation and manufactured on a modern production line. During a typical shift, 85,000 units of the product are made.

Today’s product range

In the UK, Whitehall Laboratories (owned by American Home Products) makes a range of Chap Stick which all contain a sunscreen. The product range is comprised of:

Original 1.05p
Strawberry 1.05p
Cherry 1.05p
Mint 1.05p
Orange 1.05p
Medicated £1.39
Medicated Gel £1.62
Sunblock 15 £2.45

The market

The market in which Chap Stick sells is a growing one as it becomes normal practice for people to take more care of their lips. Sales continue to be highly seasonal as consumers see more of a need for the product in poor weather, i.e. when it is wet and cold in autumn and winter. However, this picture does not tell the whole story. Market research has shown that whilst:

  • 47% of consumers use Chap Stick for treating dry/sore lips,
  • there are, in addition, 32% who use it to protect or moisturise their lips.

The target market for Chap Stick is predominantly:

  • Females aged 16 - 34 years.

There is also an increasing male market for Chap Stick, especially amongst the young who are less conservative in their ways. 59% of young females claim to use Chap Stick to “treat dry lips” by which they imply moisturising lips rather than treating sore ones. Whilst there are an increasing number of consumers who purchase Chap Stick as a regular part of their lifestyle, i.e. to moisturise their lips, it seems that many buyers purchase a lip balm on impulse. This means that they see the product on display and say to themselves - “That’s a good idea, I could use that!”

This may be because they have dry or chapped lips at the time, or more likely because they feel that buying a lip moisturiser is going to make them feel good. The nature of the product and of purchasing patterns, mean that it is not particularly price sensitive. Consumers are just as likely to buy a Strawberry Chap Stick at £1.03p or £1.07p as they are at £1.05p.

Market research in 1994 indicated that only 7% of consumers buy lip balm each month. The reality was that the majority of people bought lip balm only once a year or less often - this was the case for 79% of men and 56% of women. Therefore the product had not yet become a major part of the lifestyle of most people. However, amongst current consumers the product is widely used, i.e. 42% claim to use their lip balm at least once a week. Women consumers typically make frequent use of lip balm. In developing the market presence of a product, it is always helpful to examine what is happening in other markets where the product has been established for a longer period of time. For example, in the United States, several applications a day of lip balm are commonplace.

Chap Stick | Positioning the brand